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David Sparks
AMST370: Indigenous Transnationalisms
Molly McGlennen
11/29/18
Working Title: The “Collision”* of Woven Worlds: The Transnational Nature of Sarah Sense’s
Work (*I really loved your metaphor of “collision” in your paper, and I wanted to employ it in
the same manner you do, giving you credit of course!)
Working Outline
1. Introduction
a. Sarah Sense (Chitimacha/Choctaw)
i. Background/biography, her work in general
ii. Summary of specific series being looked at in paper
b. Transnational nature of Sense’s work through these series and a mention of how
scholarship from NAS can help illuminate our reading of specific
works/exhibits/series as wholes/her world overall. Brief mention of some of the
theorists/scholars being used and the concepts they bring to the table:
c. Working thesis: Weaving together images and symbols from seemingly distant
and unrelated times, histories, peoples, and landscapes, Sense’s work shows the
entangled, transnational nature of Indigenous relationships and histories and the
“collisions” Indigenous peoples often encounter when learning about and
exploring their personal identities and stories; her work, thus, unsettles firmly
held beliefs about what constitutes Indigenous identities within a transnational
discourse and redefines history and its making for Indigenous peoples and their
futures.
2. Native art as visual storytelling and a source of knowledge/legitimation of Native art as a
source of knowledge
a. Feddersen and Woody’s “The Story as Primary Source: Educating the Gaze”
b. Dean Rader’s “Indigenous Semiotics and Shared Modernity”
3. Transnational nature of Indigenous Art
a. Allen’s “A Transnational Native American Studies? Why Not Studies That Are
Trans-Indigenous?”
b. Huhndorf’s “Native American Studies and the Limits of Nationalism” in Mapping
the Americas
4. Deeper into Sense as an artist and establishing her work within the
transnational/transindigenous & her work as decolonial labor as she deals with
‘collisions’
i. McGlennen’s “Chasms and Collisions”  really wanna go with this
metaphor and talk about the collisions in Sense’s work, especially
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thinking about how the art world represents artists and how Sense
knowingly plays into these types of conversations in many ways, like her
use of telling personal/tribal history against american history, and ideas
of craft vs ‘high art’ that art critics projected onto Native artists
ii. Use Dubin’s “Sanctioned Scribes: How Critics and Historians Write the
Native American Art World”
b. Establish the three series as transnational from these scholarly texts.
5. “Weaving Water” and “Weaving the Americas”: Transnational Alliance Building and the
Transnational Nature of Land/Place-Based learning/a “Sense of place”
a. Talk about transnational alliance ship making through this project and Sense’s
process of traveling to 35 countries to learn about international Indigenous arts
b. Talk about land and pair it with the “Weaving the Americas.” Sense does a really
cool thing with landscapes from all of the places she visits, showing what I think
can be considered a transnational connection to landscapes that are always
inspiring. Although there is a strong and central connection to
Chitimacha/Choctaw homelands, Sense says herself that “The histories are there
in my weavings with the colors of land matching the palettes of Indigenous
weavers and painters, carrying with it my family history which I believe stretches
around the Gulf of Mexico and into the Yucatán Peninsula, reaching beyond the
blue-green Caribbean Sea, across the rolling hills of Ecuador until lifting up to the
sun in the tips of mountains of Peru’s lost city and deep into the crevices and
valleys of the Andes down to the icy blue glaciers of Chile and Argentina. This is
America.”
c. Specific piece(s) in series?: Still picking… there are a lot!
d. Scholarship used to enlighten reading?: Allen’s “A Transnational Native American
Studies? Why Not Studies That Are Trans-Indigenous?”; “Voice of the Land” by
Elizabeth Woody
6. “Grandmother's Stories”: Re-making Transnational Histories, Re-making ‘Assumptions’
a. “Doolough Trail” and “Choctaw Irish Relation”: Think about how Sense
complicates the idea of transnational history and the place of Native peoples in
history by showing the Choctaw community donating to the Irish Famine in the
1840s.
b. Specific piece(s) in series?: “Choctaw Irish Relation 9,” "Choctaw Irish
Relationship 8," and "Choctaw Irish Relationship 16"
i. Maybe discussion of borders and La Frontera with #16? It’s an image of a
boarder in Bosnia, and Sense says, “I like how the pattern becomes a
camouflage and that a peaceful weaving brings together populations of
people from different time periods and regions of the world.” Another
connection with tragedy in the world. What does this say about
transnational empathy?
c. Scholarship used to enlighten reading?: Lippard’s “Independent Identities”
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7. Conclusion
Working Annotated Bibliography
Academic texts (might need to cut it down a bit, which I’m sure you would be very helpful
with!)
1. Feddersen and Woody’s “The Story as Primary Source: Educating the Gaze” in Native
American Art in the Twentieth Century
2. Dean Rader’s “Indigenous Semiotics and Shared Modernity” in Viusalities
3. Allen’s “A Transnational Native American Studies? Why Not Studies That Are Trans-
Indigenous?”
4. Huhndorf’s “Native American Studies and the Limits of Nationalism” in Mapping the
America
5. McGlennen’s “Chasms and Collisions”
6. Lippard’s “Independent Identities” in Native American Art in the Twentieth Century
a. Lippard talks about self-representation through photographs and videography
and what that means specifically for Native peoples and Native women. White
feminism has not included the concerns and struggles of everyday Native
women. Their discourses and ideas of representation do not represent Native
bodies. Thus, Native women employ different ideas of Indigenous feminisms in
their photography and videography, and through their work, their correct
historic representations of Native people, when they could not represent
themselves. Portraits by Native people, then, are not individualistic of
independent: they represent and refer to a community. I want to use the points
from this discussion to talk about Sense’s use of photography in her
“Grandmother’s Stories” series because the use of self/family photography is
something she does very often in her work, and I think Lippard’s reading of
Native women artists in particular can aid this discussion and can give me
textured words to use in my analysis of Sense’s pieces.
7. Woody’s “Voice of the Land”
a. Sense uses imagery and photos from landscapes all over the world. I want to
think about the importance of land-based learning and land in general for Native
peoples, and I feel Woody’s discussion of its importance in culture and writing as
an art can help me talk about Sense’s use of place-based images in her work to
think about connections with people and land transnationally. Specifically, I
would use Woody’s discussion of being connected to many land bases to
emphasize how Sense create a trans-indigenous land base and connections,
while simultaneously staying close to her homelands and people. Woody also
talks about how land is a literal embodiment of Indigenous ancestors and is the
inherent right of Native peoples to be the steward to and receive knowledge
from that land base. I would love to explore more how Sense forms a type of
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transnational connection to these land bases, beyond the alliances she makes
with actual Native artists around the world in her travels.
8. Dubin’s “Sanctioned Scribes: How Critics and Historians Write the Native American Art
World” in Native American Art in the Twentieth Century
a. This article describes the manner that art critics and historians have dealt with
and written about Native artists in the twentieth century. When more and more
modern Native artists began to practice, the critics and historians struggled with
where to place contemporary and modern Native artist when Native peoples
were only found in the ethnographic and historic displays. Ideas of ‘authenticity’
plagued understandings of Native people and their art, and those in the art
world had no idea how to interpret art within its on tribally specific context.
Western discourses, Dubin argues, tend to put Native peoples outside of
conversations and contexts deemed “modern” or “contemporary.” I want to use
this article to think about how Sense plays with this idea intentionally as she
takes a technique considered authentic and original and transforms it into
something that merges both original and what Allen would call the ‘after life’ of
the thing.
Articles/resources about Sense

1. https://www.arts.gov/art-works/2015/art-talk-sarah-sense
2. https://sarahsense.com/Artists/11571/Statements.pdf
3. Molly McGlennen – “Chasms and Collisions: Native American Women’s Decolonial
Labor”
4. https://www.americanindianmagazine.org/story/sarah-sense-weaving-place-and-
memory
5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LviaI1-b45g  Sarah Sense speak about the
importance of weaving in her life and her art. Skype interview with Sophie Bristol at
RAINMAKER gallery, Bristol, UK; for 'MESSENGERS 2012' exhibition 13th June-25th July.